WASHINGTON (AP) — Ross Stripling only got to pitch the sixth inning against the Nationals because Logan Forsythe grounded out into a double play ahead of him, preventing manager Dave Roberts from pinch-hitting for the former reliever.
It worked out perfectly for Stripling and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Stripling struck out the side in the sixth to end his day by fanning five straight, Max Muncy drove in two runs and the Dodgers cruised to a 4-1 victory over Washington in the opener of a day-night doubleheader on Saturday.
“He went out there and executed the third time through (the lineup), which was great,” Roberts said. “He’s shown a lot. He has a lot of confidence in himself, as he should. He’s taking advantage of this and it absolutely has not gone unnoticed. It’s innings that we’ve needed from him.”
The Nationals were less concerned with having lost the game — their first loss since May 9, thanks in part to a weird, waterlogged week in which two games were postponed and one suspended — than about a potentially significant injury to Howie Kendrick.
The veteran left fielder went to the ground after catching a sacrifice fly by Muncy in the eighth. Kendrick, who’s hitting a team-leading .303, put no weight on his right leg and was taken off the field on a cart. Manager Dave Martinez called it a lower right leg injury and said Kendrick would have an MRI.
“It’s a huge loss. Not something you want to see, especially when we him. I’m super bummed out, but we’ll see what it is and see where we go from there,” Bryce Harper said. “He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with.”
Stripling (1-2) struck out the side in the first and fanned a career-high nine on the day, including Harper twice, in the longest and best of his four starts this season. He allowed one run on four hits, walking none.
Stripling made 11 relief appearances, allowing one run in 15 1/3 innings, before moving into the Dodgers’ rotation. He said he was able to introduce different pitches as the game progressed.
“A tough lineup like this, a lot of times you’re going to throw the kitchen sink at them from the start. Just not the way it worked out today,” Stripling said. “Was able to kind of hold on to the change-up and use it in some big spots.”
Forsythe and Joc Pederson had two hits apiece for Los Angeles, which won its second straight after losing nine of its previous 10.
Pederson led off the game with a triple off Tanner Roark (2-4) and scored on a sacrifice fly by Yasmani Grandal. Forsythe doubled in the second, breaking an 0-for-12 skid that stretched to April 14 and included a 26-game stint on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. He singled in the fifth and scored on a grounder by Cody Bellinger.
Roark allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight.
J.T. Chargois worked the seventh, Josh Fields pitched the eighth and Kenley Jansen threw a perfect ninth for his seventh save in nine opportunities.
ADVENTURES IN EYEWEAR
Harper wore eyeglasses with clear plastic frames during his first at-bat, when he struck out swinging. He ditched the specs his second time up and drove in the Nationals’ only run with a single to center.
Curiously, Harper said he couldn’t get his contact lenses in before the game and didn’t wear them until his third at-bat, when he struck out.
A PROPER DEBUT
Catcher Spencer Kieboom made his season debut and first major league start for Washington. He got his first career hit on the first pitch he saw, a line-drive single to left off Stripling in the third. Kieboom, a seven-year minor league veteran, saw his only previous big league action in the final game of the 2016 regular season, when he entered as a pinch-hitter, walked and scored in his only plate appearance.
Nationals: OF Rafael Bautista, who appeared in nine games for Washington this season, suffered a serious left knee injury during a collision in the outfield while playing for Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday night, manager Dave Martinez said. Bautista will have surgery and miss the rest of the season. … IF Adrian Sanchez was brought up from Syracuse to be the 26th man for the second game.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (left bicep tendinitis) will be back “in the near term,” Roberts said. Stripling said the Dodgers’ ace, whose spot in the rotation he has been occupying, was “set to throw a bullpen here pretty soon.” … LHP Tony Cingriani (left shoulder inflammation) was activated from the 10-day disabled list, and LHP Adam Liberatore was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. … Los Angeles activated RHP Erik Goeddel for the second game and optioned ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte to Oklahoma City. Goeddel was claimed off waivers from the Mariners on Friday. … RHP Yimi Garcia was the 26th man for the second game.
Max Scherzer (7-1, 1.69 ERA) starts the nightcap for Washington against the Dodgers’ Rich Hill (1-2, 6.20). Scherzer hasn’t lost since April 4, while Hill hasn’t won since April 1 and left his last start with a blister on his left middle finger, a recurring problem for the left-hander that has already led to two stints on the disabled list this season.